Finally, November is here, and if the rent and bills are paid up, you may have a little extra cash to spend on miscellaneous nonsense. Thankfully, we have plenty of it, with the especially exciting The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists providing a whole slew of fun experiments to do with your kids and Uncharted 3, which is so damn exciting that nearly every other video game got the hell out of its way for the release today. If those don't get you worked up, there are a couple of fantastic documentaries, two amazing comics for people of all ages and more coming out this week.
The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists by Ken Denmead
Geek Dad's column for Wired has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for us because he manages to nail some of the greatest Macgyver hacks that can be accomplished by even the most simple amongst us. This book looks to be no different, with tons of different experiments you can do with your kids, including growing your own crystals, extracting DNA and even building a radio. Science is often seen as nerdy and not fun, but with the help of this book, you might be able to teach your kids otherwise, especially if you happen to blow something up in the process.
That is All by John Hodgeman
Love the shtick or hate it, John Hodgeman has amassed a sizable following based on his uncanny ability to act like a pretentious ass. This book, the third in the Hodgeman "Complete World Knowledge" trilogy, continues the trend, with tons of factoids and fake trivia. We haven't a clue how he has managed three books on the premise of false information, but he has, and although not everything here is a winner, many of his narratives and curiosities are hilarious on several levels. You don't really need to have read the first two books (The Areas of My Expertise and More Information than You Require) to follow along, but it certainly helps.
Errol Morris' documentaries are often not exactly documentaries, but something in-between fiction and nonfiction. Tabloid is similar, as it tells the story of a former Miss Wyoming, Joyce Mckinney, after she was accused of abducting and raping a Mormon missionary in 1977. The case was eventually dubbed the "The Mormon sex in chains case," and the media obsessed over it throughout the late '70s. It was one of the craziest, weirdest stories to hit the papers in history and it's well worth getting a glimpse at the inner-workings of the story through the eyes of many of the people involved. It's an Errol Morris documentary through and through, but it's so damn bizarre even the haters should be entertained.
The Last Mountain
No matter what your political stance, coal mining is, and will always be, a controversial issue. It has destroyed environments and poisoned workers, but it's also the crux of the energy economy and responsible for much of the forward momentum over the years. This documentary takes on coal mining in a small Appalachian community, where one of the last vestiges of a mountain are targeted for destruction in an effort to get more coal. It is a very angry documentary and certainly not even-handed, but it's an interesting take on an area we rarely get to see.
Uncharted 3 (PS3)
The Uncharted series has made non-PS3 owners jealous with its incredible visuals, interesting story (no, really) and it's Indiana Jones-esque vibe. Each of the games are truly a sight to behold and this third installment is no different. Unlike most games (or stories in general) of this ilk, Uncharted 3 looks much further inward than we're used to, with the lead character, Nathan Drake, being forced to question why he has such an insane desire to drag his friends through the mud in search of treasure. You won't kind another gameplay experience like this, nor will you find it with this much attitude and skill in its storytelling, if you own a PS3, you need to look into this series.
Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy
Grant Morrison's Joe the Barbarian mini-series seems created straight out of the desire to make a fantasy tale in a modern world. It tells the story of Joe, an 11 year-old boy who struggles in school, is a victim of bullying and whose father died in the Iraq War. He also has Type 1 diabetes, and after an attack, he enters a fantasy world in which he is a lost savior. It's a huge adventure, with pirate dwarves, evil dogs, castles and monsters of all sizes. You can think of it as something like a modern day The Never Ending Story and you'll be on the right track, but this is so much more.
Someday Funnies edited by Michel Choquette
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If you're a comic fan, all you really need to know are that names like Jack Kirby, Art Spiegelman, Gahan Wilson and Moebius all make an appearance in this collection, which is a retrospective looks at 129 previously unpublished comics from the '60s and '70s. Initially it started as an insert for Rolling Stone, but when funding was cut and no publisher was attached, Michel Coquette's work collecting these together was all but lost. Now, for the first time, many of these artists and writers stories of the '60s will be seen for the first time.